“Our previous system restricted our access to the information by a factor of at least 50%. Something that would have taken weeks is now taking just a few days. Furthermore, the intelligence in the search has meant that sometimes the database will link papers that we wouldn’t have linked in a million years. I am confident now that we don’t skip or ignore important information.”
T Longland CVO OBE – Brigadier (Retd) DCDC
- Easy to learn and to use
- Quick delivery of results
- Scaleable, to meet current and future demand
- Reliable, with 99.8% system uptime and availability
- Increases archivists’ productivity
The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) is a Ministry of Defence think-tank, collocated with the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, UK. Within the DCDC the DART has the function of managing an archive of military and historic documents, images, and recordings.
The Development, Analysis and Research Team (DART) is a department within the DCDC which has the function of maintaining and providing access to the military archive of over half a million historic documents and related images, and recordings. This archive is available on request to members of the armed forces, and approved historians.
Disseminating this information is in the hands of a small dedicated team of research assistants. Before the Dart Information Management System was in place, records were classified using an Access database, relying on the manual creation of accurate metadata and a general knowledge of the documents in existence. It could be used only by the research assistants themselves, and it was not possible to run a conceptual search on the content to ensure all relevant documents were accessed.
Archive content grew at 10-15% annually and the DCDC remained reliant upon explicitly exhaustive searches to inform their decisions. The system was unable to meet demand.
Brigadier Longland, of the DCDC, met many companies offering software and services. However, several offered inflexible solutions rather than a solution to the DCDC’s specific requirements. The Brigadier was pleased to find a vendor who understood his situation and was prepared to provide a solution that met his demands fully.
The solution was provided by Web-Labs, specialists in the development of system software and services, using the Concept Searching search technology. It was installed on an existing Windows server, and MS SQL was installed for managing the terabyte of RAID database storage.
The first step was to scan, classify and load the data onto the system. Once the items had been sent to the OCR engine the resultant text was automatically indexed by the powerful concept based Web-Labs Search Master engine, powered by Concept Searching.
The conceptClassifier module provides the organization with a highly accurate, rules based, classification option for automating the generation of metadata using the MOD’s taxonomy structures.
conceptClassifier is unique in that it generates keywords, acronyms, and conceptual metadata from within content, by automatically identifying the word patterns in unstructured text that convey the most meaning. By identifying the most significant patterns in any text, these conceptual terms can then be used to generate non-subjective metadata based on an understanding of meaning. The Web-Labs Document Master asset management software provided comprehensive and user friendly access to each document as required.
The Web-Labs system provides swift and accurate responses to requests for information from the analysts at the DCDC, enabling them to compile reports and recommendations with the confidence that they are using all the available evidence at their disposal.
Any search will provide a comprehensive list of relevant materials, including two extracts and an overview of each relevant document. This enables the experts to select and review all the documents that they need. It also allows analysts to verify any external content very quickly.
The system is easy to administer, freeing up research assistants to manage other areas of their roles. It is easy to learn, with new users taking less than 10 minutes to become independent, irrespective of their knowledge or technological expertise.
The original documents have been moved to a temperature controlled location suited to the preservation of valuable and delicate objects. However, the scanned images maintain the smudges, stains and handwriting that give them their personality and value as testaments to events.